Looking after the pennies
Research group Mintel has predicted that this quarter's alcohol sales will be even lower than usual. Alcohol spending traditionally falls every year between October and December, coupled with an overall slump of 10 per cent in the past decade. As a result, in 2009 the quarter drew in £1 billion pounds less than the same period in 2000.
Mintel predicted that Christmas 2010 will be one of the driest ever in terms of consumer sales, while 40 per cent of small businesses are planning to forego their Christmas party to save money. Unfortunately, the price of alcoholic drinks is set to rise by 8 per cent in 2011, so there's no light at the end of the tunnel just yet.
Money is not the only reason to bypass the booze, however. The government's road safety campaign Think! has teamed up with Coca-Cola GB, to offer buy-one-get-one-free soft drinks to designated drivers in over 8,000 pubs and bars across the country. This is considered to be an 'at-risk' time of year, when the desire to celebrate and have fun can outweigh common sense.
'Tis the season to be sober
However, 35 per cent of people surveyed said they did not feel the need to drink at Christmas, while an estimated quarter of the population is now teetotal all year round. Production and sales of non-alcoholic wines, beers and ciders have soared in recent years; these days, the non-alcoholic option needn't mean flat lemonade in a chipped half-pint glass. Another popular option is a 'mocktail', or non-alcoholic cocktail, which can be adapted to suit the season. Either way, it's important to create a sense of occasion for drinkers and non-drinkers alike, perhaps with lavish Christmas table linen and centrepieces.
For those who do want to drink, Mintel's research found that the most popular options are classic long drinks, with wine (65 per cent of us will drink it at some stage over Christmas), lager (51 per cent) and sparkling wine (33 per cent) topping the chart.